How to lift floorboards

Lifting floorboards may be necessary for a number of reasons.  You might want to have exposed floorboards, and find that some of them are badly worn; you could be checking that the joists underneath are sound, or considering replacing the whole floor.

Older houses usually have floorboards with straight edges, which are relatively straightforward to lift.  Use a wide-bladed chisel and insert it at one end of the floorboard into the gap, gently prising it up.  When the gap is wide enough, slide in a claw hammer and move along the board, pulling it up gradually until you reach the end.

Tongue and groove floorboards present a little more of a challenge because the tongue needs to be sawed through on at least one side.  You can do this with a flooring saw that has a convex blade, or alternatively use a circular saw or pad saw.  When the tongue’s full length has been cut the floorboard can be pulled up.  Take care not to damage any joists with the saw because they will become weakened and may have to be replaced.

Floors made of chipboard sheets can be unscrewed and lifted away.  If the chipboard is tongue and groove, use the same method of cutting the tongue as with ordinary tongue and groove floorboards.

If you are just checking a piece of pipe work under the floor you may not need to lift the whole floorboard.  Lift the board over whichever section you want to get to, then cut it off with a floorboard saw, making sure the cut is right above the joist so it is supported when put back.

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